Million dollar casino winner sues to get prize

Million dollar casino winner sues to get prize

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 10 at 5:38 PM

LINCOLN CITY, Ore -- A Lincoln City woman is now in a legal fight to get what she said is rightfully hers-- a $1 million jackpot.

Last year, Beverly Mackey won $1 million dollar grand prize in Chinook Winds’ Swipe, Play & Win promotion game. It was a life-changing moment for the former home health care worker who has had heart surgery and a battle with diabetes.

"In a moment when I'm not thinking about it, I'll lapse into a little fantasy about how I don't just have to live off Social Security, Disability and a small pension," said Mackey. But a few weeks after she won her prize, Mackey had the bombshell dropped on her and was told she couldn’t collect it.

It turns out, that Swipe, Play & Win is actually owned by Reno-based Odds On Promotions, a wholesale firm that sells contests to radio and TV stations, casinos, sports teams and others.

Chinook Winds paid Odds On a $20,000 fee for the game and for the ability to tout a million dollar prize without actually having to stake the cash. Odds On in turn, staked the prize money, set the odds and bets players won’t win.

When Mackey won, the company refused to pay and said it made a mistake. Odds On claimed a company technician set the grand prize odds too low and that settings were akin to the odds given to small prizes like Frisbees or ChapSticks.

"You would assume that they have the competence to program these kinds of promotions because that's what they do,” said casino attorney Craig Dorsay.

Chinook Winds has filed a joint negligence and breach of contract lawsuit together with Mackey.

"We think we have a pretty damn good case, and we hope they see reason," Dorsay said.

Mackey is suing for her million and "no less than $20,000 for mental and physical distress". Her suit also cites damage to her reputation for not receiving the cash after she told nearly everyone in her small town about her winnings.

Even with no obligation, Chinook Winds paid Mackey $50,000, the first year of annuity on her prize.

Chinook Winds wants reimbursement from Odds On for its $20,000 game fee and the $50,000 it paid Mackey.

Eric Smileuske, marketing director at Chinook Winds said he's been spreading the bad word about Odds On Promotions.

"We've gone out of our way to tell people this is not a company we'll do business with," Smileuske said. "If this is the way they do business, we're not interested."

With no record of past complaints, KGW’s Unit 8 called Odds On Promotions. Their lawyer said they can't comment.

Fifteen months on, Mackey wants it all to be over.

"I think they're wrong,” Mackey said. “They're absolutely dead wrong and I think they need to live up to their contract with the casino. I think they need to live up to their promise to me."

The lawsuit is expected to last another six months to a year before a settlement is reached or it goes to trial. If Mackey wins, she'll get $50,000 a year for 20 years.

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